In early May, 2016, a research team from the Center for Advanced Urbanism, visited Abu Dhabi to explore local neighborhoods and interact with stakeholders responsible for planning, design and allocation of Emirati housing in the city. The team, consisting of Research Associates David Birge and Sneha Mandhan, is part of a two year collaboration between MIT, led by Prof. Alan Berger, and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, led by Prof. Khaled Alawadi, aiming to design sustainable neighborhood typologies for native housing in Abu Dhabi.
News + Events
MIT has named its Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) in honor of Norman B. Leventhal '38, a visionary developer and philanthropist at the center of Boston’s postwar revival. A life member emeritus of the MIT Corporation who died last year, Mr. Leventhal was a vital member of the MIT community for three-quarters of a century.
The center was officially named the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism today at a signing ceremony attended by Alan and Sherry Leventhal and other members of Norman Leventhal’s extended family.
-- Jonathan Mingle
On the global stage, cities may be where the spotlight often falls — but the suburbs are where the action is.
CAU’s wetlands project was part of the MIT Open House on April 23, 2016. In the Nepf Fluid Dynamics Lab, we set up four experimental wetland basins for visitors to see for themselves how design can impact water quality. In this activity, visitors inserted obstacles into the wetland basin in novel configurations to lengthen the amount of time a wooden bead took to travel through the wetland. We were visited by a wide spectrum of the local community- including families, young professionals, and MIT faculty and alums- and enjoyed receiving a high level of engagement by the public.
CAU research featured in current issue of Volume #47: The System.
Metabolic Wastebelts: Waste creates its own landscape, and thus our relation to it, like all landscapes, is ultimately a question of design. Unlike the pastoral, though, water landscapes need to overcome stigma and outright danger. The question again seems to be at least one addressable by means of design. MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism speculate about potential landscape strategies to harvest social and urban value from waste.
As part of UN World Water Day, MIT CAU’s project on stormwater constructed wetlands was featured in the White House Water Summit’s Fact Sheet, which profiles important commitments made by stakeholders around the country to push forward water security. CAU’s project is undertaken by an interdisciplinary design and engineering team investigating how constructed wetlands for stormwater can combine performance and urban design functionality to become resiliency infrastructure for cities.
Future of Suburbia [Conference] is introduced by Eric Bender in Moving Beyond Suburban Legends. The conference is designed to appeal broadly to professionals involved in urban planning and development, and will explore how suburbs and their metropolitan areas may be made more sustainable and livable through better design and planning. The gathering will build on a two-year research effort by CAU, which has sought to go beyond traditional analyses of urban landscapes, such as d
Boston Globe interview with the Future of Suburbia Exhibition team encourages a disciplinary shift to focus attention on suburbia. The exhibition projects a suburban future that works metabolically as a holistic system that actively provides resources like energy and waste disposal, supporting itself as well as city cores.
Cities today are the cumulative product of codes and standards that have directed how people use, construct, and shape their environments. By extrapolating the legends of land use maps, this timeline seeks to expose how landmark codes and ordinances have shaped the North American landscape. The legend in isolation, free from its associations, reveal the the often reductive, scientific rationality of the code in contrast to the fluid networks of landscapes and communities.
On Monday 25-Jan, The Future of Suburbia exhibition opened, a multimedia synthesis of multiple years of research that has involved students, faculty, and practitioners.
Major goals of the work are to expose the nuance and complexity of the suburban condition, visually document suburbanization around the world, and produce four design frameworks for future suburban conditions. The four frameworks describe a future of suburbia that is heterogeneous, experimental, autonomous, and productive.
We are delighted to announce a new research collaboration as part of of the Masdar Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cooperative Program. Dr. Khaled Al Awadi and Prof. Alan Berger will lead research into Abu Dhabi Scenario Planning & Design of New Sustainable Neighborhood Forms. The project aims to develop sustainable neighborhood typologies by understanding the contextual form and analyzing the quantitative urban metabolic flows at a household and neighborhood level for native housing in Abu Dhabi.
Infrastructural Monument details the first of two conferences organized by the MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism centered around the biennial theme of infrastructure.
The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism is pleased to announce that it will be supporting the Urban Design Studios: Renacimiento: Reviving Mexico's Abandoned Towns, and Conservation and Re-use of Industrial Heritage at the Shanghai Minsheng Dock. The studios will be co-taught by Brent Ryan and Rafi Segal, and Dennis Frenchman and Jan Wampler respectively. Included below are some more details as to their studios.
The CAU Strategies for Urban Stormwater Wetlands is a research project that combines climatically engineered wetland solutions with key formal and functional landscape designs in urban planning. The project offers me an unique experience as an architecture student to work with fluid mechanics engineers and urban designers. The diverse team is working beyond ambiguous green space designs and towards an urban infrastructure composed of technically sound wetlands and aesthetically pleasing urban landscapes.
In November 2015, Professors Alan Berger and Heidi Nepf, along with Lead Researcher Celina Balderas Guzman, traveled to Los Angeles to meet with stormwater city and county officials, ecological conservation leaders, and academics. They toured a couple of wetland projects in LA, including the Ballona Wetland and Oxford Basin project, learning about the complex political and ecological challenges facing projects of this kind in LA and the opportunities for intervention. Next spring, the team intends to travel to Houston, our other case study site, for comparative analysis.
The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism is very pleased to announce the MIT-Philips Lighting Grand Challenge on The Future of Lighting and Illumination in Smart Cities, Infrastructure, Public Spaces, Buildings, and Homes.
Please join us on Monday November 2, 2015 for this special CAU event on “The Megacity Initiative: Exploring Urbanism though New Media” with CAU Visiting Scholars Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald. This talk will take place 12:30-1:30pm at the CAU (E14-140), lunch will be served. For more details contact email@example.com.
How can social housing in Mexico be better connected to economic opportunity? How can abandoned developments be revived? How can troves of untapped housing and development data be used to benefit Mexican citizens?
The World According to Architecture, a visualization of a research developed by Gabriel Kozlowski, Roi Salgueiro, and Hashim Sarkis, will be on view at Yale School of Architecture until Nov. 14. The visualization shows, conceptualizes and categorizes 25 architectural and urban projects that have considered the scale of the world as a design question. The work is included in the exhibition "City of 7 Billion: A Constructed World", curated by Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis. A homonymous symposium will take place at Yale between Oct. 1 and 3. Dean Sarkis will give the closing address.
As part of the CAU’s research on Climate + Urbanism, the Center recently undertook an internal design exercise to analyze the threat posed by climate change on Greater Boston. It focused on the applicability of “resiliency districting” as a means of protecting critical infrastructure, reinforcing regional infrastructure and soft systems, and transferring density out of vulnerable areas. This proposal also sought to demonstrate how new values can emerge in floodable areas by creating flux-receptive programs and land uses.
A New Model for the Urban-Rural Fringe in Jiangsu Province (led by Prof. Adèle Santos), and Developing the Littoral Gradient (led by Prof. Brent Ryan and Fadi Masoud) have been awarded Sam Tak Lee Faculty Research Grants. A total of thirteen grants were awarded to faculty and researchers from across the Institute. Research will commence during the fall of 2015.
This project initiates a new research direction of mutual interest to the mobility industry and urban designers/planners—the effects of automated driving on urban areas. Most current media and research interest in the automated sector focuses on dense urban environments, however, ongoing research the Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) documents how the suburban environment is the dominant form of urbanization in the U.S. (50%+ of the population, 55% of commute destinations). It is likely to remain dominant given the majority share of population and employment in suburban areas.
Strategies for Urban Stormwater Wetlands Los Angeles and Houston led by Professor Heidi Nepf, Professor Alan Berger and Lead Researcher Celina Balderas Guzman has been awarded an Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) seed-grant. A total of nine grants of $200,000 for two years were awarded to researchers from 11 MIT departments.
Philips has announced an alliance with MIT, for an initial term of five years and $25 million, that will ultimately support MIT research in the company’s core areas of health care and lighting solutions technology, which will be conducted in collaboration with Philips Research.
The new MIT-Philips alliance was formalized today with a signing ceremony attended by Global Head Henk van Houten of Philips Research, and MIT Provost Martin Schmidt and Associate Provost Karen Gleason. Some of the MIT researchers whose work will be supported by the new alliance also attended the signing.
Professor James Wescoat and Fadi Masoud have two separate chapters published in a book titled “Out of Water: Design Solutions for Arid Regions” and just released by Birkhauser.
Over the course of the spring semester students have been experimenting with emerging trends in the fields of landscape architecture and urbanism as they relate to the Center’s biennial theme, The Future of Suburbia. Centered around five design briefs (see below), the workshop has culminated in the design of suburban prototypes that respond to the various future challenges and opportunities that suburbia faces. The students work will form the foundations of an exhibition around the same theme, scheduled to open in early 2016.
On a recent trip to Japan, Alan Berger Co-Director of the Center for Advanced Urbanism, lectured on The Inverted Tent: American Urbanization and Future Mobility.
The overall goal of the Medellin Studio was to take the Manatiales de Paz neighborhood as a case study for research and action, in order to discover firsthand the process and form of fast informal urbanization as well as its consequences. Learning from the successful social agenda and the Proyectos Urbanos Integrados PUI (integrated urban projects) that regenerated the informal fabrics of Medellin, the studio aimed to answer the following question: What if those infrastructural interventions could arrive in time? How should they be deployed? What would be the strategy for implementation?
MIT CAU visiting scholars Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald just returned from a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa and Maputo, Mozambique where they acquired material for the 2016 Future of Suburbia biennial exhibition and associated Infinite Suburbia publication. Johannesburg is a rapidly expanding city marked by stark divides. Its periphery is known for its highly fortified, insular suburban enclaves and large shopping malls that continue to be built at a rapid pace, especially around Pretoria.
The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture invited Fadi Masoud Lecturer of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design and Research Associate at the CAU to participate in an exhibition titled Emerging Landscapes. The exhibition is IIT College of Architecture’s primary curatorial effort this spring, and is a collaboration between Dean Wiel Arets and the MLA program faculty and students. The selected work on display is recognized as being the most influential in defining emerging trends in landscape architectural research, design, and practice.
Rising Tides: Planning and designing Boston’s land use and mobility system for a changing climate led by professors Christopher P. Zegras and Brent Ryan has been awarded an MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism Seed Grant. They will lead an interdisciplinary team of seven students to explore strategies for adapting to potential sea level rise (SLR) through simulated interventions in the land use-transportation system in the Boston Metropolitan Area (BMA).
Fostering Sustainable Consumption in U.S. Cities led by Professor Judith Layzer (PI) has been awarded an MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative (MIT-ESI) Environmental Research Seed Grants. A total of 59 teams of faculty, research staff, and students responded to the call for proposals, with Prof. Layzer one of nine winners. She will collaborate on this research with faculty including, environmental economist Dr. Frank Ackerman, scientific historian Professor Jennifer Light, and landscape architect and urban designer Professor Alan Berger, as well as Ph.D candidate Lily Pollans.
Over IAP 2015, 10 students (MCP, M.Arch, SMarchS) spent seven days in Medellin on an initial workshop, visiting the urban projects in informal settlements and meeting with community partners in the city, including: peers at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellin, the municipality of Bello, the Manantiales de Paz board, as well as a host of city making professionals including: Alejandro Echeverri, Felipe Uribe, Camilo Restrepo and Carlos Escobar.
On 13-14th March, the CAU hosted a “think tank” design charrette on The Future of Suburbia – the Center’s biennial theme. The workshop marks the half-way point in the biennial theme, which will culminate in spring 2016 with a major conference, exhibition, and publication. A number of lectures, courses, design charrettes and other events are also being held through the spring of 2016 in support of the theme.
The MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) was represented at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Faculty Members – Professor John Lienhard, Professor Colette Heald, and Associate Provost Karen Gleason – and CAU Co-Director Alan Berger served on MIT’s IdeasLab panel on global food and water security, a topic central to the CAU’s ‘Environment + Urbanism’ research area.
The Medellin Studio: Providing infrastructure for informal settlements in Bello, Colombia (Co-taught by Lorena Bello and Jota Samper)
Organized by the MIT Club of Delhi, Celina Balderas Guzman gave a talk on CAU’s research philosophy and mission as evidenced by CAU’s projects. The talk was prefaced by Mr. Shankar Aggarwal, Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development of India, who spoke about India’s urban challenges. The talk was generously hosted by Mr. Vinay Rai, MIT alum and leader of the Rai Foundation.
Image credit: Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald.
The Center for Advanced Urbanism is pleased to announce the line up for its Lecture Series 2014-15. They will be held on Monday evenings in the Long Lounge (7-429). Further details are available here
The series will begin on 22th September with Louise Mozingo, Professor & Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley discussing Pastoral Capitalism: Corporations, Suburbs, and the Metropolitan Landscape.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced that six design proposals -- including one by MIT's Center for Advanced Urbanism, with partners ZUS + Urbanisten -- have been selected as winners of HUD’s Rebuild by Design competition. The MIT team’s winning design proposal "New Meadowlands” protects a unique area of approximately thirty square miles in the NY/NJ Metropolitan Region, against future flood events.
Join the Center for Advanced Urbanism as they present at the 2014 MIT ILP Europe Conference in Brussels on May 21-22nd. Tickets available here
“To resolve the world’s ecological problems, we first have to work on the problems facing our cities.” This observation by landscape architect Dirk Sijmons is the premise of the sixth edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam: IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE– and it earned him the curatorship of this edition. A major exhibition, URBAN BY NATURE– will guide visitors through the contemporary urban landscape to experience the metabolism of the city. For the first time in its history, the now sustainable Kunsthal will be used in its entirety for a single exhibition.
The Spring 2014 Scaling Infrastructure conference is CAU’s second and final infrastructure conference of our biennial theme that will convene political leaders, infrastructural engineers, design professionals and academicians to discuss groundbreaking ideas on infrastructure. Faced with new economic, political, and environmental challenges, the question of appropriate infrastructural investments and design scales is critical to the future of urbanized territories.
The Center for Advanced Urbanism participated in the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, in Shenzhen. The CAU's exhibit entitled "Infrastructural Objects as Enablers of Cultural Change", presented a hypothesis in regards to the diffusion of industrial structures into society at large. Through a process of embedding and re-appropriating, buildings instill new values, forms and symbols into an otherwise conformist urban order.
On October 28, the MIT CAU ZUS team revealed five Design Opportunities across the Hurricane Sandy-affected region. The CAU ZUS team presented each proposal which are all now available online. This juncture marks the end of Phase II that included three months of research and conversation with communities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and beyond.
An international design team consisting of the MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism (US) and Dutch Delta Collective (NL) was charged by Shaun Donovan, United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, with a study and design for the reconstruction and redevelopment of the northeast coastline of the United States, after the passage of hurricane Sandy in 2012. The team combines the cutting edge research and local knowledge of MIT and the best in water design and management from the Netherlands, such as De Urbanisten, Deltares, Volker Infra Design, ZUS and 75B.
The CAU is cosponsoring a Community Games Workshop with the MIT Science Impact Collaborative on September 16th and 17th. The event will feature Tygron Serious Games demonstrating their powerful game engine. Anyone interested in serious games, planning and collaborative policy-making is encouraged to register and attend any part or all of the workshop sessions. Please find more information here.
The Center for Advanced Urbanism is pleased to announce the line up for its Fall Lecture Series. They will be held on Monday evenings in the Long Lounge (7-429).
The series will begin on 9th September with Vishaan Chakrabarti, Principal at SHoP Architects, and Director of CURE, Columbia University. Alongside his seminar entitled A Country of Cities, there will also be a book signing to mark the release of his latest book by the same name.